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Does more calcium equal healthier bones?

May is osteoporosis awareness month! There are many myths and truths about this global epidemic even though it has been around for years.

Osteo means bones and porosis means porous. Osteoporosis is a major global epidemic. It is estimated that 200 million women worldwide have osteoporosis and 1 in 2 women after the age of 50 will experience a fracture and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. That is a huge number!

Got Milk?

You do not have to drink milk to have healthy bones. No matter how many mustache-bearing, hot models you see say otherwise, milk does not necessarily “do a body good.” The American Dairy Association wants us to think we will die early (or at least fall and break something important) without a daily glass of milk or two or four. In fact, there are entire countries of people who have never eaten dairy foods in their entire lives. And they still thrive, get plenty of calcium in their diets, and have Olympic teams.

It turns out that the countries that consume the most amount of milk and dairy products have the highest rates of hip fractures. The countries that consume the least amount of milk or no milk products at all (many Asian countries) have the lowest rates of fractures. Studies repeatedly show that eating dairy foods alone (or even supplementing with high levels of calcium) doesn't significantly prevent bone fractures in older persons.

The Gut milk ads were funded by the U.S. dairy council and the Federal Trade Commission stopped the campaign because there was no evidence that it protects against bone loss.

Calcium supplementation :

Given our obsession with dairy foods and getting large amounts of calcium in our western culture, we don't tend to lack sufficient calcium. In fact, many women consume way too much calcium via daily supplements. Studies repeatedly show that higher calcium intake alone does not help bones long-term. Shocking, I know!

Strong bones are dense with minerals. But bones must be flexible to avoid fracture. It is the matrix of collagen protein that makes bones flexible and provides a thick structure for mineralization.

Many physicians are prescribing 1000mg -2000 mg of calcium a day to their patients living with osteoporosis but it is causing more harm than good.

Dr. Walter Willett, from Harvard University's School of Public Health (and easily the most respected nutritionist in the world, has recommended no more than 700mg of total calcium per day for healthy adults.

The recipe for retaining high bone density and flexibility is much more complex than drinking milk or focusing on one mineral alone. Mineralization is important not just calcium and magnesium. It is an orchestra of the symphony of nutrients that promotes biochemistry in the body. There is no such thing as one single nutrient that orchestra everything.

Stay healthy

Until next time



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